As the average entrepreneur to list his or her most important goals and the answer is usually something like this: "Our most important goals? They're all important."

Maybe so, but not where your teams are concerned. Chasing too many goals means no goal is truly important -- which means no team will truly come together in the pursuit of the goals that matter most.

That results in a huge lost opportunity. Think about it: We often feel most fulfilled when we feel like we're a part of something bigger than ourselves. Feeling a special sense of teamwork, of esprit de corps, of purpose? That gives work meaning. That transforms work from a series of tasks into a quest.

Great leaders help give their employees a true sense of purpose by setting the right goals, for both the organization and individual teams. We all enjoy seeing a direct line of sight between our effort and tangible results.

At my company, LogoMix, we consistently set goals and track performance at the team level. Usually those goals focus on revenue, or on reaching objective targets in a functional area like marketing or product development.

For example:

  • For product teams, we set targets for performing new tests or launching new products.
  • For marketing teams, we set targets for testing new campaigns or expanding and improving on existing campaigns.
  • For customer support teams, we set targets for problem resolution, responsiveness, and customer satisfaction.
  • For technical teams, we set targets for feature performance, user experience, quality, delivery.

The goals we set are important for the growth and health of our business, but they also serve to unify teams and bring people together. Goals also help people stay focused on the right tasks. In a startup, where employees typically wear many hats, there are countless things to work on.

It's easy to mistake "urgent" for "important." Emails begging for a response. Messages begging to be returned. Questions begging to be answered. They seem urgent... but what's truly urgent is accomplishing goals that drive a team - and the business - forward.

During an episode of The Tim Ferriss Show about the "choice-minimal" lifestyle, Tim Ferriss interviewed Herb Kelleher, former CEO of Southwest Airlines. Kelleher stated that he constantly asks himself one question when new ideas, new plans, and new issues pop up: "Will this help Southwest Airlines be the low-cost provider?" If the answer is yes, he'll explore it. If the answer is no, no matter how urgent the issue may seem, it's not important.

The right goals don't just make your teams efficient. Anyone can be efficient; all you have to do is knock items off your to-do list.

The right goals make your teams efficient and effective -- they allow you to get the right things done.

And in the process, the right goals create a sense of shared purpose, one that helps your teams stay focused on what truly matters. They help eliminate distractions, eliminate guesswork, eliminate conflicting agendas.

The right goals don't just help ensure the right things get done. They also help build great teams -- teams that can accomplish any number of other goals as your business naturally changes and evolves.

That's reason enough to create team goals.